Advertently Gruntled

Iíve been tripping across some words lately that have me perplexed. Most all of them are negative forms that convey a very specific meaning, but when I try to use the positive form of the word, things get weird.

The other morning I inadvertently stepped on the catís tail. As you might expect, she howled and ran off. I apologized, telling her that it was, after all, inadvertent; and that she should not be too angry with me. I went on to explain (yes, I spend a bit too much time alone with the cats) that if I was really trying to hurt her, I would have advertently stepped on her tailÖ And thatís when the first word tripped me up. It seems that you can do something inadvertently but it is impossible to also do something advertently. The word is in the dictionary, but it is used only by lawyers these days, making it a very litigious sounding word. Such is the English language and I find it much too negative.

This left me disgruntled. There should be more logic in language. Were I able to use the word advertent and actually have people understand what I was saying, Iíd be quite gruntledÖ There, it just happened again. Itís not fair that I can be disgruntled but Iím not allowed to be gruntled. If someone asks me how my neighbors feel about the recent property tax changes that the state has put into place, I want to be able to say ďTheyíre quite gruntled, actuallyĒ. It has a nice ring to it. You can almost hear them responding with a hearty New England ďuuntĒ or ďuhnĒ. Itís almost poetic. When they are disgruntled nothing comes out. Thatís a shame.

Iím not going to get all worked up about this. It just has me a bit peeved. Iím not disposed to go on a campaign to change the English language - Iíd just like a little more leeway in expressing myself.

By the way, if Iím not disposed, am I posed?


Nice! I often trip on these too. If I had found your entry "pressive" I wouldn't have commented (does that work...for impressive?). I love being a word geek!

Teddy Roosevelt would be proud!!!!!


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This page contains a single entry by published on August 1, 2004 6:27 PM.

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